Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


19 August 2007

The VTT Diaries...

Hey Hey..thanks to those who have been patient and not riding my ass for updates, kinda hard with being on the road everyday and no web the majority of the time. However in some spare time I did managed to whip up a few words about each roll on the VTT Diaries.

Well here it begins the last race on my calendar for what has been a crazy and most exciting year to date. The day began with a super early wake up for a 4am departure to the airport for a 1.5hr flight to France. Flying with the every faithful and safety conscious RyanAir, we landed in France with what seemed like the handbrake still on whilst touching down. Must be a European thing. Glad to be alive and in one piece we were still muddy headed and bleary eyed to find the news that our team van pick up time was thrown back four hours. But considering we took the big bird in the sky whilst the staff took the small bird on the asphalt things weren’t so bad. Once picked up the rest of the afternoon was spent doing some quality van time, including keeping up the new traditional of educating Captain Canada on the 12th Man. Arrival to our destination we were greeted with the news our race organized accommodation was to be the dorms of a local Catholic girls school. Much to Norris’s disappointment it was holidays. Further to our surprise it was a night sans power and sans any bedding linen. Despite some desperate attempts for nearby hotels we came up short. Needless to say my oversized towel which I debated to bring came in handy. Thanks mum. And so ended a solid 20hr day…lator cw.

A morning for sleeping in which was well received by all- including a couple of the staff who literally stepped of the plane and into the drivers seat for a 16hr drive yesterday. The main agenda for the day including riding the two wheeler (oh yeah, that’s what we do again..) and team presentation. With a quick spruce up the boys were looking sharp for the town centre festivities, including the traditional team barge ride where we soon learned fish guts on the trackies ain’t such a good look. The day ended with the first official dinner from the organizers and from accounts from the boys of previous years of mystery buckets of ladled white goop I definitely went in with an open mind. So when we were greeted with various plates of salad, rice and fish things were looking pretty good. With a motivational massage ending the day we were all pretty beat, but looking forward to tomorrows opening race day, kicking off with a 4km ITT. Bring on the skinsuits…lator cw.

It was a day of hanging around for sure, with us hosers not into the starting house until after 4pm, so with a team meeting in the morning it was clear the lads were all chomping at the bit, including the U23 guns Norris and D-Mac who has had some success here in previous years. With a nice warm up ride over to the waterside town of Aurey it was time to check out the 4.2km time trial course. Straight outta the almost floating starthouse the front wheel dips into the cool blue wet (okay, murky) stuff for a brief moment before the onslaught of tight tarmac and cobbled climbs take hold. The top of the course briefly rolled around an oval before some traditional Euro stair work leaving the teeth a little rattled in the gums. The final sting in the tail was a steep techo uphill, followed by a freshly dug up steep as hell twisty chute. Good soil for starting a veggie garden but not so flash for mtb tires to ride through so it was two feet all the way. Outta the start gate things were looking good getting up to speed before a loose spectator decided to cross the course absentmindedly, leaving a close call and me coming in way too hot on a pea gravel corner. Luckily keeping it upright and back into the groove thinking that the worst was over. Pinning back down to cross through the start area once more up ahead once more a couple of aloof spectators decided it was going to be the appropriate time to cross the course with a rider coming head on at over 45km/h. Including one particular lady bring up the rear. And well, lets just say a hell of a lot of rear. And front. Narrowly missing what could be a potentially fatal collision it was time again to refocus on the fun task of tearing myself inside out. With a fairly clean cut run for the rest of the race it was a solid 19th position. The days highlight definitely came with D-Mac taking the big W in the U23 division, getting the kangaroo kids off to a great start.

Although the tt kicked off the tour I guess for me this felt like the first stage more, lining up like sardines in a tin on the startline for a 52km hurt fest. The course was a little pearler, heading out of race hq and on tot three loops then back again. As expected things were game on from the start with plenty of handlebar and elbow to elbow action. Making it out to the three loops the legs were still intact, hanging with DC in a pretty fast bunch but trying not to do any work with the u23 boys up the road. Coming back into the last few kms we were able to put some smack down and drop the majority coming home in 16th and 17th place. Happy dayz.

Word from the physio and part-time weather watcher was that the dark clouds would only produce a light shower and I should leave the 1.9km semi slicks on. So midway through the race when the sky opened up hard things turned super fun. Rocky and root infested descents were negotiated on the brink of control. Mid way through the race the boys banded together to look after Norris who had some mid race derailliuer adjustment. Keeping up a solid pace in some less than ordinary conditions including a shiteload of running we came home 9th, 10th and 11th and went straight to the showers. Whoever decided to have the team issue socks white was dreaming.

The legs pulled up a little rough after the large amount of footwork yesterday and I quickly died after a solid start off the line. Must say it was nice to make the lead group only if it was for a coupla kms. With the lights a little dim I had a break on the side of the road helping D-Mac out changing a flat, complete with a roadie mechanic push to get the man back up to speed. It wasn’t until the final lap until things started to pick up, passing a few backwards stragglers while enjoying feeling like a bike racer again. At the end of the war it was 20th. Meanwhile at the pointy end the Castlemaine Kid had a blinder, taking out the big W.

Later that night was the second stage for the day, a 3.2km team pursuit on a tight downtown circuit full of log jumps, dirt mounds and some makeshift gravel pits and rock gardens. Heading late into the night we rocked the skinsuits hard in the cold air, making the final against Dutch pro team Dolphin. With the lighting pretty darn sketchy in the 10.30pm darkness there was potential for accidents to occur, namely judging the take off and landing points for the many obstacles. Unfortunately it was D-Mac who came down very hard early in the first lap, enough to stop the race and bring out the ambulance.

The first rest day on the cards fell with some pretty good timing, with Macca spending the previous night in the hospital and giving us some flexibility to transfer to the start of the next days stage. Not much to report really, apart from a very ordinary nights sleep in a less than ordinary youth hostel leaving us boys with some itchy arms and legs the next morning and some mumblings about bedbugs.

Sometimes having a rest day can go either way, little bit of let up and its game on again, or the body thinks its game over. Perhaps it was the quick bout of gastro the night prior and into the morning but it was clear my legs weren’t with me for todays stage. With no power and fading fast it definitely was a day to forget, riding around like a small child AC style. Still things could be worse and I got the better of my pony tailed rival for place….next.

So this was the final XC stage with a ITT tomorrow and what an interesting little setup it was. Basically the idea was see how many mounds and paths can be ridden in an urban park, sneak out for a bit of nice forest singletrack and then back into the park once more. Do this 6 times and its a VTT stage. Pretty cool. So with my new race warm up playlist on my ipod I was pretty amped up to try and have a go. The first lap things were looking real good, finally tagging along the lead group for the first lap until the flame went out and once again I was struck down with small child syndrome for the next 3 laps. Painful. The last two I finally pulled my head outta my behind and gave'r some gas to make up some positions but it was clear the jar labelled 'form' was well and truly scrapped dry. 16th.

"Well this is it Seattle, one last show we never play again..or not least for quite sometime anyways" was the EV quote rolling in my head for the final stage for the VTT and the race to close my season. With 4.2km of downtown ITT madness the grande finale was off the hook. Super steep staircases going down and a hell of a lot of them to run on the back. Combine this with slick cobbled streets and light drizzly rain the potential carnage meter was on full peak. Rolling outta the start gate the plan was simply keep it upright and keep in solid, nothing too loose as a broken arm in the off season aint so hot. Well that was the plan and sometimes the old thoery of slow down to go faster works, cracking the top ten for a 9th place finish.

So with my first VTT down and well and truly in the hurt locker there is also a definite feeling of satisfaction there too, with everyone in the team pulling together and giving their all over the last 9 days, with the results showing it too, taking out a coupla stage wins and the overall U23 GC. So overall it was 14th on the GC for me and pretty happy to be there, despite losing a few places in the last few stages.

Thanks for all those leaving comments and for the support from home, and big thanks goes out to Cap, Jase and G-Money for looking after us so well over the tour and to Norris, D-Mac and the Cooper Trooper for being such great blokes and team mates to ride alongside. Cheers, cw.

1 comment:

T-Money said...

I hope you know i have been selling this blog to a mountain bike magazine to finance my own athletic adventures. I am sorry.........sounds like ur having a blast (did the skin suit have an aero helmet?) look forward to ur return